This week the discovery of the closest earth-like exoplanet ever seen was announced.
The star system closest to our own sun hosts a planet with roughly Earth’s mass and may harbor other alien worlds as well, a new study reports.
Astronomers detected the alien planet around the sunlike star Alpha Centauri B, which is part of a three-star system just 4.3 light-years away from us. The newfound world is about as massive as Earth, but it’s no Earth twin; its heat-blasted surface may be covered with molten rock, researchers said.
The mere existence of the planet, known as Alpha Centauri Bb, suggests that undiscovered worlds may lurk farther away from its star — perhaps in the habitable zone, that just-right range of distances where liquid water can exist.
Probably it is not true, but, supposed it is, this is of course great news.:
The detection, to be published tomorrow (Oct. 17) in the journal Nature, was so difficult that some astronomers aren’t yet convinced that Alpha Centauri Bb exists.
The discovery sprouted a discussion on the Extropians mailinglist about the feasibility of star travel and how to get there: using present rockets, it will take about 50,000 to 100,000 years.
Not counting the expansion of the universe, which is still accelerating. According to BillK even at a much faster speed than our best rockets can reach.
The new value for the Hubble constant, good to within three percent, is 74.3 kilometers per second per megaparsec (km/s/Mpc).
What this means is that a galaxy one megaparsec away (that is, 3.26 million light years) will be moving away from us at 74.3 km/sec. If you double the distance to 2 megaparsecs, a galaxy would be moving
away at twice that speed, or 148.6 km/sec.
74.3 kilometer/second = 166 204 mph
148.6 kilometer/second = 332 408 mph
However, fantasizing about the future and space travel doesn’t harm anyone, and Alpha Centauri has a tradition in Science Fiction. io9 published a list with ten books speculating about colonizing the place or meeting the aliens who might live there. I was impressed and instantly downloaded some of them to my E-Reader.
Looking for Sid Meier’s Game “Alpha Centauri” I also found a longer “Alpha Centauri in Fiction” list on Wikipedia.
Multi-authored online science fiction world-building project Orion’s Arm, had a short discussion on its mailinglist to either add a new planet or make the new planet Alpha Centauri Bb and the existing Pirithous the same world. Ixion could be the name for the added planet in OA.
And another coverage of the story:
Finally, from “Alpha Centauri Stars & Planet Explained: Our Nearest Neighbors” an Infographic by Karl Tate.